MORMON CINEMA AT FIVE: A HEALTH REPORT Although Mormons have been a topic for films as early as 1905, and LDS filmmakers have been telling quintessential Mormon stories since the 1930s, Richard Dutcher’s films God’s Army (2000) and Brigham City (2001) mark what some consider to be the birth of ‘Mormon Cinema’, feature-length fiction films with LDS subject matter, produced by Latter-day Saints independently of the Church, and released theatrically. More than twenty films have emerged since then, some produced to have crossover appeal (e.g., On the Other Side of Heaven and Dutcher’s films, including his newest, States of Grace), others unabashedly insular, relying on Mormon in-humor and banking on LDS religiosity (e.g., The Singles Ward, The R.M., Day of Defense). Where do things stand at Mormon Cinema’s five-year mark? Now that the novelty that created initial interest in these films has worn off and audiences have endured quite a few bad films, is the fledgling genre dying? What can be done to ensure its survival and lay the groundwork for future flourishing?
Scot Denhalter, Richard Dutcher, John-Charles Duffy, and John Bernhard